Today I’m back in my office in Galway after a frenetic four week schedule jetting back and forth from Ireland to various parts of Europe.
I love returning home after several weeks on the road with all the hassle travel entails these days whether it’s dealing with airport security or rushing for trains or buses or figuring out how to work the air con in strange hotel rooms.
My first port of call was the beautiful French Alsace city of Strasbourg where I reported on the European Parliament’s March plenary session. The next week I was in Rome chairing a ministerial meeting on the future impact of Digital Innovations on all of our lives. Then I headed off to Malta where I moderated an event on saving the Mediterranean from over-fishing. And finally last week, I was back again in Strasbourg covering the April plenary session.
By the way that was the session when, during a debate on Brexit, UKIP’s Nigel Farage accused the EU of behaving like the mafia and then changed it to gangsters after a reprimand from the Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani. England’s great Brexiteer also declared with great gusto that the Brits don’t have to buy German motor cars or drink French wine or eat Belgian chocolate.
You can hear Farage’s typically theatrical performance by going to my podcast here.
Anyway that was all the stuff I was covering over the last month.
Now I’m back home by the wild Atlantic Ocean where I can only admire the bravery of the hardy perennial swimmers who head into its freezing waters by Blackrock’s diving boards in Salthill. It’s pretty chilly even in the height of the summer not to mind the middle of winter.
This week I wanted to write about something very close to home, in fact something that happened just a stone’s throw from my office which is on the campus of the University here in Galway. The building faces the Corrib River where you’ll see rowers skilfully manoeuvre their boats like giant razors slicing through the water.
Last Monday President Michael D Higgins officially opened a new theatre on the campus of the University or NUIG as it’s called which stands for National University of Ireland Galway.
O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance
The O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance is named after a philanthropic Galway businessman called Dr Donagh O’Donoghue who’s been generously giving back to the University where he was educated for many years. It has a 120-seat theatre space along with studio spaces, a classroom, a workshop and a rehearsal room. And it promises to build on Galway’s considerable heritage of original theatre and a culture that supports artistic and creative expression.
Galway is home to the iconic Druid Theatre and the location of the annual Galway International Arts Festival which is one of Europe’s biggest festivals. The West of Ireland city will also be Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2020.
There was an exciting vibe about the Centre when we went along to the opening last Monday evening. Some students were rehearsing mime movements in one of the rooms while another group staged a sophisticated 10-minute play about the disturbing effects of the dysfunctional workplace. Yet more were busy ushering us around and handing out refreshments.
The Centre is housed in a renovated building which itself has a fascinating history. It started off life as a bleach and flax mill in the 1850s and went on to become a factory for making cannon shells during World War 1, was occupied by the 17th Lancers during the War of Independence and then later it became a factory where prams were made. Now it promises to be a hub of creativity that will hopefully inspire generations of students to come.
Its opening is timely because next week Galway will host its annual theatre festival which promises a fantastical array of offerings for all theatrical tastebuds from comedies about rural undertakers to Marilyn Monroe-loving air hostesses.
If I make it to any of them I’ll let you know.